Minutes of the Regular Meeting of June 5, 2008


(As approved at the regular meeting of July 17, 2008)


The San Francisco Public Library Commission held a regular meeting on Thursday, June 5, 2008, in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library.


Vice-President Munson called the meeting to order at 4:35 pm. 


Commissioners present:  Del Portillo, Harris, Lee and Munson.


Excused: President Gomez


Commissioner Chin arrived at 4:38 pm


Commissioner Kane arrived at 4:42 pm




An anonymous citizen said he had prepared documents to be distributed to the Commission including a letter from the City Controller dated February 14, 1946, describing the Commission’s responsibilities regarding the Fuhrman Trust; the Order Approving and Directing Modifications to the Trust Agreement with language submitted by the City Attorney scratched out by the Judge; two of his newsletters on the subject dated September 1992 and January 1994; and an article from the San Francisco Bay Guardian dated December 22, 1993 entitled “Breach of Trust “  He said “the point is if you ever believed that they ridiculed me and lied to me because I’m wrong this is the proof otherwise.”


Sue Cauthen, Chair Library Citizens Advisory Committee (LCAC), passed out a Resolution adopted by the LCAC and asked that it be included with the Minutes.  She said that the LCAC supports retention of the existing system, as stated in Section 2.1.09 of the San Francisco Charter, which reserves final authority over SFPL fines and fees to the Board of Supervisors.  She said there had been a request to the Board of Supervisors to reject the entire ordinance based on confusion on this clause, so LCAC felt it was important to make a recommendation.


Peter Warfield said as a member of LCAC he had voted against the Resolution which had just been handed out.  He said it is interesting that the City Librarian according to the Resolution has made statements privately to some members of the LCAC, which seems to have usurped the action taken by the Commission on May 1.  He said the City Librarian can present what he likes to the Supervisors but it certainly would not be what the Commission agreed to on May 1.  He said private statements made regarding actions of the Commission should be brought forward to the Commission.




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said on page one that he spoke about Robert Hass and the fact that the monetary awards were not given to the student.  He said the entire point was the San Francisco Unified School District was offended about giving $3,000 to a talented student, but, of course they were all $100,000+ a year executives themselves.  He said on page two under approval of minutes that it would be hard to understand what he was saying without going back and providing an example of what he had previously said.  He said on page four that his comments did not include his comments about the meaning of the word “scan” in the Ordinance.


Peter Warfield said on page five there are comments from Commissioner Kane regarding fee increases going to the Controller subject to Library Commission approval.  He said his recollection was that Commissioner Kane expressed serious concerns about the lack of public visibility and input on changes as provided in the legislation.  He said Commissioner Kane’s concern is not reflected in the minutes and he thinks that should be included in the minutes. 


Motion:  By Commissioner Del Portillo, seconded by Commissioner Harris to approve the minutes of May 1, 2008.


Action:  Ayes 6-0 (Commissioners Chin, Del Portillo, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).




Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said that these minutes were from the most recent meeting and he said he hoped this was a new policy.  He said his comments on the first page left out a crucial point regarding the City Attorney at the time who wrote an article contradicting the position of her office and it would have been helpful to her to have that information.  He said the comments under public comment on the minutes were well reported.  He said on page five the point Commissioner Del Portillo was making about local hire was not made clear in the minutes.


Peter Warfield said on page four his comment regarding the MOU was included and in general he would praise these minutes.  He asked if there was a change in policy to approve the minutes at the next meeting of the Commission.


Sue Blackman, Library Commission Secretary, said whenever there is three weeks in between meetings the minutes will be on the next agenda, otherwise the turnaround time is too short to have the minutes on the following meeting’s agenda.


Motion:  By Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Harris to approve the minutes of May 15, 2008


Action:  Ayes 6-0 (Commissioners Chin, Del Portillo, Harris, Kane, Lee and Munson).




Luis Herrera, City Librarian said there was an All Staff meeting recently where 63 individuals were honored with service pins.  He said he wanted to mention two individuals who are retiring after more than 40 years of service.  He said Grace Ruth began with the library in 1966.  He said she is a children’s collection development specialist who has a national reputation.  He said there will be a reception for her on June 20th in the Children’s Creative Center.  He said the other individual is Dennis Maness, who began his tenure in 1968.  He said for the last 8 years he has been the head of the general collections department on the third floor.  He said both of these individuals are avid photographers.  He wanted to commend both of them for their years of service to SFPL.  He said the second topic is the 2008-09 budget which the Commission approved in February.  He said since that time we have been negotiating with the budget office and the Mayor introduced a budget to the public last Monday.  He said because of our set aside the library is in pretty good shape. 


Maureen Singleton, Budget Manager, said that there is a General Fund shortfall of $338.4M and that the State’s estimated budget shortfall is $16B but that the State’s budget is not expected to be finalized by July.  She said the direction from the Mayor’s office was to make reductions to bridge the gap and to have a lean and efficient government.  She said there could also be layoffs and the library could be effected by bumping of employees of other city departments.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian explained the FY08-09 budget priorities for the library and where the library landed with each of the priorities.  He said the Mayor’s office is recommending having 4 branch libraries with additional hours including Glen Park, Noe Valley, Ortega and Bayview.  He said Ortega and Bayview will now have seven day service.


Maureen Singleton, Budget Manager, gave highlights on the activities since the Commission approved the budget in February.  She said when the original shortfall had not been bridged the Mayor asked all departments for an additional 8% cut based on their base salary budget.  She said the benefit the library has because of the set aside was that we were allowed to meet this reduction target by looking at our program change proposals or enhancements rather than having to dig into our base budget as other departments are doing.  She said the other benefit is that we were able to look at both personnel and non-personnel to reach the targets, where other departments could not do that.  The Mayor’s target was to look for internal efficiencies and reduce the size of government.    She said we had originally asked for 10.31 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions.  She said we determined that we could add additional hours at some but not all sites for an additional 3.54 FTEs.  She said the Mayor submitted the budget on June 2.  She said the first hearing with the Budget and Finance Committee will be on June 16 and the second hearing will be on June 23 and after that it will go to the full Board of Supervisors in July.  She said in August we will report back to the Commission on the finalized budget. 


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said as part of the budget hearings there will be a discussion on the Fees and Fines Ordinance which the Commission approved.  He said that the ordinance has been modified to clarify that the process for increases in fines and fees will remain the same as it is now which is approval by both the Library Commission and the Board of Supervisors.  He said this is a good budget for the library but we will be impacted by what is going on citywide.  He said there is a freeze on hiring staff so there may be delays in hiring new staff. 


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian gave an update on the Branch Library extended hours.  She gave the history on how the approved hours were determined.  She explained that the goals would be to equalize services across the city and respond to community need.  She said additional hours were approved for Ingleside, Mission Bay, Portola, Visitacion Valley, Merced, Ocean View, and Bayview.  She said additional hours were added to Western Addition and Park late in the budget process with the Board of Supervisors.  She said funding was approved with the FY07-08 budget.  She said the hours were implemented the week of October 20, 2007.  She said after six months, circulation has increased by an average of 10%, and new library card registrations by an average of 26%.


Linda Brooks-Burton, Bayview Branch Manager, said the new hours have allowed the branch to have more programming and outreach.  She said the Thursday evening hours are popular with teen programming and additional meeting room use.  She said there has been an 8% increase in circulation and an 11% increase in new card holders.


Avelina Ronquillo, Ingleside Branch Manager, said the additional hours at Ingleside are on Sundays from 1 -5 pm.  She said there is heavy use by children and caregivers.  She said they now have a family craft table, a Sunday family story time, mural painting program and yoga program.  She said there has been a 35% increase in new card holders.


Dominic Scappaticci, Ocean View Branch Manager, said the additional hours at Ocean View are on Mondays.  He said they now have afterschool use 5 days per week.  He said there has been a 10% increase in books and materials checked out and a 46% increase in new card holders.  He said there is an additional day of partnership with the Bookman Community Center.  He said there is heavy use of the computer lab on the extra day.  He said there is also additional outreach and school visits.


Wen Chin Chen, Visitacion Valley Branch Manager, said the additional Monday hours at Visitacion Valley benefits patrons of all ages.  She said adults come in during the day to use the computers and there is a lot of after school use by children and teachers.  She said they are doing a lot of school outreach.  She said they are planning a partnership with the Visitacion Valley Community Center.  She said there has been a 7% increase in books and materials checked out and a 49% increase in new card holders.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said the Library has proposed more hours in the FY 08-09 budget including Noe Valley, Ortega and Bayview to open on Sunday and Glen Park on Monday.  She said with these changes there will be 4 remaining branches open 5 days per week, 13 branches open 6 days; 11 branches open 7 days.  She said 20 libraries will be open on Monday and 15 branches will be open on Sunday.


Marcia Schneider, Chief of Communications, Collections and Adult Services, introduced Lisa Vestal the Library’s Chief Curator and said Lisa has been with the library since August, 2007 and said she had previously worked at Stanford University.


Lisa Vestal, Chief Curator said that there is an exhibit in the Jewett Gallery through June 29 entitled Sing Me Your Story Dance Me Home.  She said there will be two exhibition related programs in June.   She said the next exhibit in the Jewett Gallery will be Connecting Hearts. . .Building Families on July 12 – August 17.  She said there will be an exhibit in the fall entitled Robert Sabuda: Travels in Time and Space from August 31 – November 9.  She said the next Skylight Gallery exhibition will be Bookworks 2008 opening July 1 through September 26 and from October 11 – January 18, 2009 there will be an exhibition entitled “Afghanistan 1970 – 1975 Images of an era of Peace”  She said there are numerous adult programs scheduled for the summer as well.              


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he knows Grace Ruth very well, he said he hopes the library will get a chance to debrief her on her knowledge of the library.  He said with respect to the budget and Sunday hours it was noted that the presenter on the budget said that the increased hours on Sundays will be available even though the FTE positions are being reduced from 10.31 to only 3.54.  He said that should be gratification to all of us and that the cost of those extra hours was inflated, however, the effect of the closures of the branches from remodeling remain to be seen.  He said he noticed no one thanked Supervisors Mirkarimi or Elsbernd or citizen activists for their work and support of extra hours.  He said this is a victory for democracy.   


Peter Warfield said he would have liked to have heard more about the retirees.  He said he’s sorry these items were not on the agenda independently because each of these items deserves a good deal of discussion as well as public comment.  He said he hopes the Commission recognizes the tremendous efforts that were put into obtaining funding for more branches to open on Sundays including himself, the anonymous citizen and others and certainly strong credit should have been given to the Supervisors who provided the funding.  He said he was taken aback in 2006 when the City Librarian said he did not recommend adding any hours to the system.  He said the Supervisors persisted and provided the funding.  He said a year went by and there was never a plan until FY 07-08.  He asked the Commission to ask for further details about what has changed in the budget.    


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Del Portillo asked how long it will be before all of the branches are open seven days a week.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian, said that the priority had been to get all libraries which are currently open five days a week to six days a week and then to increase the number of seven day branches geographically around the city.  She said the plan was to move forward in a methodical way so we are not committing to a large increase in budget for staffing. 


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said it is incremental and the goal is to have all libraries open as many hours as possible.


Commissioner Del Portillo said she would like information on cost estimates for opening all libraries for seven days.


Jill Bourne, Deputy City Librarian said she did cost estimates on that a couple of years ago but she would like to go back and update the numbers to bring back to the Commission.


Commissioner Kane said he thinks we are 21 days short from having all branches open seven days a week.  He said he would encourage creativity in budgeting.  He asked about our cut in the budget in response to the Mayor asking for an additional 8% cut.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian said that the total increase is higher than the $81M and he said the base budget and increases are actually higher and even with a reduction the total budget increase is about 8%.


Maureen Singleton, Budget Manager, said the new budget will be $84.58M.  She said even though we made reductions in spending areas overall the budget went up because the savings were in a category called “appropriated for reserve”.  She said it is a chunk of about $4.1M that is appropriated but is not appropriated for any particular source or project.  She said the amount allocated in the budget will be approximately the same as the amount approved by the Commission in February.


Commissioner Kane asked that a report come back to the Commission comparing the budget approved by the Commission and the final adopted budget by the Board of Supervisors.


Commissioner Chin said she wanted to recognize and congratulate the two retiring employees, who are retiring after 40 years of service.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said he will come back to the Commission at the end of the year with a full report on all retiring employees throughout the year.




Vice-President Munson announced that there would not be a Friends of the Library Report at this meeting.




Ellen Egbert said she is a member of the Council of Neighborhood Libraries (CNL) and said several members of CNL would like to give some history and an update on CNL activities. 


Sandra Miller, representing the Presidio Branch on CNL said CNL is a varied group of volunteers and very passionate local library users.  She said we try to contribute a valuable connection between staff and users of the library.  She read the Mission Statement, which is: In order to create a public library system which best meets the needs of San Franciscans, the CNL promotes dialogue among and between branch libraries, San Francisco neighborhoods and library and city decision makers by promoting public awareness about the library system and its services, identifying and championing branch needs and working to resolve issues and acting as a conduit for neighborhood input.”  She said CNL has monthly meetings.  She said the members share information about their individual branches.


Laura Bernabei, representing the Ingleside Branch, said since some of our libraries have been renovated, five are currently in construction and five more are in design, many CNL members have been focused on the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP).  She said CNL meetings allow representatives from different branches the opportunity to share successes and pitfalls during this process.  She said many of the CNL members also serve on the Neighborhood Library Campaigns (NLC) staffed by the Friends and Foundation.  She said a focus is on fundraising but they also build community involvement with the renovation of the buildings.  She said they will continue to keep the Commission informed about future events as they come up.


Chet Roaman said the Library has added a place on the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment meetings for a CNL member.  He said local library users are now a part of the branches design review process.  He said designers, consultants and contractors show their finished designs and there are usually 4-5 meetings to refine the designs.  He said the discussions are lively.  He said specific topics include color schemes and textures, types of flooring, furniture, lighting and shelving choices.  He said having a voice from the community adds a touch of reality and maybe even gravitas.


Ellen Egbert passed out samples of various brochures which have been done for the branch libraries as they open.  She said these are a brainchild of CNL member Miriam Pavis from Bayview.  She said some of the other things CNL are involved in include advocating for the library at community meetings, supporting library openings and closings, attendance at community fairs and events, and supporting Friends activities.  She said she reports back to CNL on the Library Commission as well.  She said Sue Blackman, Library Commission Secretary is now representing the Commission at the CNL meetings and Sue provides the facts on what is happening at the Commission meeting.  She said she usually adds the color of what happens.  She said after a branch has been reopened CNL goes back in and works on lessons learned.  She said things that might not be working perfectly are made known so that it won’t happen again.  She said CNL meets the last Thursday of every month at 4:00 pm in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room and the Commission is welcome to attend at any time.


Luis Herrera said Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches is the Chair of that Committee and it is a truly engaging and active group that we truly appreciate. 


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said it was a very interesting report about the Council of Neighborhood Libraries.  He said it is a Committee that has been around for several decades.  He said since it gets people involved it sometimes operates positively.  He said it has engendered several activists over the years. 


Commission Discussion


Commissioner Lee thanked the members of the CNL for their comments and input and for supporting the library.


Vice-President Munson said it is wonderful to know that there is a group of dedicated people that work as hard as described to help make the library system work in the neighborhoods.


Commissioner Del Portillo thanked the CNL members.  She said that nothing preserves an institution better than being “owned” by the people who use it.


Commissioner Kane thanked the CNL members.  He asked if any of the branches do not have representatives and if so is there anything the Library can do to make sure each branch is represented.


Ellen Egbert said most of the branches have representatives, but some do not.  She said the branch librarian has some responsibility in promoting membership in CNL.


Brian Bannon, Chief of Branches, said the representatives to CNL come through a variety of different ways.  He said sometimes the recommendations come from the branch librarians and sometimes from a current member of CNL.  He said we do encourage each branch to have a representative.  He said the work the members of CNL do is truly extraordinary.


Luis Herrera, City Librarian, said there is a Recruitment Committee that strategizes about how to maximize participation from the branches.


Commissioner Chin said there are so many dedicated people involved in CNL.  She said perhaps each branch should have the picture of their representative in the branches.




Vivian Pisano, Chief of Information Technology, said that Information Technology (IT) is largely a support service.  She said we provide the tools to allow library staff to effectively deliver library services to the public and provide public access to library resources and the world of information. She said Public Technology is one of the library’s key priority areas.  She explained the goals of IT.  She said there are 630 PCs in the Main and branches.  She said the library provides free WiFi at the library and 23 branches.  She said they are planning to upgrade the Main Library WiFi in the next year.  She said IT administers the online public access catalog.  She said next month IT will be introducing an alternative and additional way to search the catalog.  She said the website is the heart of our virtual library services.  She said about 9% of visitors to the website come from outside the United States.    She said the website had 12.25 million hits last year.  She said there were 449,420 hits to the Spanish and Chinese websites.


Public Comment


An anonymous citizen said he liked the report and hopes there will be ongoing reports on this.  He said this is something he hopes the Commission will take very seriously.  He said since we now have tables reserved for laptop users only, we should make sure we have access to all of the people including nontechnologically proficient people.


Peter Warfield said this is something we could have a great deal of discussion on.  He said he would like to know what projects are planned besides WiFi.  He said regarding WiFi there are very serious concerns about the radio frequency radiation health effects.  He said there are people very concerned about the health effects especially for library workers who are subjected to that on an on-going basis.  He said there are basic catalog functions that need to be looked at as fix-it projects. 




Melissa Riley said she wanted to add her thanks to the CNL, the Library Commission and Library Citizens Advisory Committee who are all working hard to make the library more useful and better for the public.  She said she also wanted to thank the taxpayers who consistently vote to support the library and also to all the people who use the library and give their ideas and suggestions.  She thought it was a good idea to have the CNL members and Commissioners pictures put on the website.


Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item.




MOTION: by Commissioner Chin, seconded by Commissioner Harris, to adjourn the regular meeting of Thursday, June 5, 2008.


Public Comment


There was no public comment on this item


AYES: 6-0 (Chin, Del Portillo, Kane, Harris, Lee and Munson).


The regular meeting of June 5, 2008, of the San Francisco Public Library Commission adjourned at 6:40 pm.


Please note:  Copies of commission minutes and handouts are available in the office of the secretary of the San Francisco Public Library Commission, 6th floor, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA  94102-4733


Explanatory documents:  Copies of listed explanatory documents are available as follows:  (1) from the commission secretary/custodian of records, 6th floor, Main Library; (2) in the rear of Koret Auditorium immediately prior to, and during, the meeting; and (3), to the extent possible, on the Public Library’s website  Additional materials not listed as explanatory documents on this agenda, if any, that are distributed to library commissioners prior to or during the meeting in connection with any agenda item will be available to the public for inspection and copying in accordance with Government Code Section 54954.1 and Sunshine Ordinance Sections 67.9, 67.28(b), and 67.28(d).